Is It Time For a Commercial Labeling System Upgrade?
When do you need a commercial labeling system upgrade? There’s more to consider than just high speed and reliability. Your labeling system affects downtime, container options, the appearance of your products, and even your environmental impact. So, what should you consider to find the right label applicator technology to upgrade your system — and at what point do you need to replace it?
Is Your Labeling System Still Cost Efficient?
When you started your business, you may have put labels on products by hand. As production ramped up, you switched to a semi-automatic labeler. Maybe now you’ve hit a point where an automated labeling solution makes sense. While the general rule of thumb is to make the switch when you can eliminate one job shift, you may see cost benefits long before you reach that point. Full automation is more accurate and frees up space on your production floor. Even if you’re only pulling someone away from this job for a few hours every day, the labor saved can be invaluable in today’s competitive hiring market. If you want to learn more, download our free white paper on using automation to increase output from a smaller workforce.
What about eCommerce or small businesses? For most businesses in the United States, you have a choice between USPS, UPS, or FedEx. Each company has its own box size standards. If you want to keep costs down, you need a labeling system that is flexible enough to cover all of these sizes. That way, you can switch between carriers easily as prices change. Even if prices are steady, the price differences can be vastly different between companies.
Can You Add Value to Your Products?
A labeling system upgrade gives you ways to improve your own products or provide new services to clients if you offer logistical solutions.
One of the biggest benefits of pressure-sensitive labels is the sheer variety of format options. Every part can be modified to fit almost any requirement. Need help standing out? Making the switch from opaque to clear labels lets consumers see what’s inside glass and plastic containers. You can also use unusual colors or metallic labels for some added visual flair. Nearly any print can be paired with gloss or matte finishes, so you can get the exact look you want. By upgrading your equipment, you can even increase the number of labels or alter their positions. These changes help you grab the attention of consumers when they’re browsing the shelves.
Changes can also be functional. Need something waterproof? Plastic labels and coatings will do the job. Have products that experience temperature extremes? Some adhesives and materials will keep your labels from falling off the packaging. While clear labels require different label sensors, most changes only require new calibration settings.
Do you want to ship internationally or import products into America? Each country has its own label requirements, which makes label orders a nightmare. However, if you upgrade to a print-and-apply machine, you can add information to each label to fit international requirements. Adding a cover label system allows you to remove statements from your label template that aren’t valid in that country.
Print-and-apply allows you to offer custom labels. You can print labels for special events or seasonal product lines. It also makes it easy to add coupons and contest information to your packaging.
Are Your Containers Keeping Up With Customer Demands?
The size of your containers (and their materials) is equally as important as the label design.
Are your containers small enough? For value-oriented goods, it may make sense to switch to smaller containers to maintain the same purchase price. For other products, reducing packaging sizes reduces waste and transport costs. This is better for eco-conscious consumers and your bottom line. You may find you need to change your label applicator technology to accommodate these smaller containers for accurate labeling, especially if they use a different shape.
Material choices are also changing, both to reduce environmental impact and to cut costs. For example, we’ve seen a massive shift in the craft brewing industry from bottles to aluminum cans. Cans are lighter and less fragile, lowering costs from shipping and product loss. They also provide more labeling space without the need for complicated machinery. Thanks to labeling advancements, it’s possible to buy small amounts of cans and add custom labels to cover your whole product lineup. Like package shrinking, switching to aluminum also reduces your environmental impact. Aluminum is easier to recycle, and the weight savings reduces CO2 emissions during shipping.
Can You Cut Turnaround Times?
How quickly can you get a product out the door after you get an order? If you want to cut delivery times, every part of your production process needs to work perfectly, including labeling.
There’s more to speed than how fast your machine applies labels. Does it make sense to use separate applicators for front and back labeling, or a single wrap label? Would you have less downtime for equipment maintenance if you switched from thermal transfer to direct thermal printing? What if you switched from a single reel with alternating labels to separate front and back label reels? Should you add stack lights for workers to see the operating state of your labelers at a glance? Each of these factors needs to be considered when you replace or upgrade your equipment for greater operational efficiency.
Is Your Equipment Worn Out — or Does it Just Need Help?
As your equipment reaches the end of its life, breakdowns will be more frequent. This doesn’t just add costs for maintenance, it also increases downtime. How long can you expect a labeling machine to last? That’s hard to say since every labeling environment is different. There’s a big difference between using a machine for one shift per day in a clean, climate-controlled environment versus using equipment 24/7 in dusty areas that experience extreme temperature changes. No matter the operating conditions, maintenance is a bigger factor for predicting reliability than age. That means it’s often more cost-effective to implement better maintenance practices and replace worn parts than get a new machine.
Are You Taking the Future Into Account When You Buy a New Machine?
When you’re considering a new labeling system, you need to plan for now and the future. We design our systems to be modular, giving you an easy path of scalability. That way, you can make adjustments as your market and your production demands change. For example, our vertical trunnion roller applicator supports up to five label applicators, so you can change the placement of labels on your bottles. Want to switch to clear labels? Most of our machines can be upgraded with a resistive sensor, letting them sense the position of both clear and opaque labels. By choosing a flexible machine, you ensure your next purchase will give you a good ROI by staying in service longer.
Get a Commercial Labeling System That Meets Your Production Demands
Do you feel like you’re spending too much time fixing your labeling equipment? Maybe it’s time to talk to industry-leading experts at CTM Labeling Systems. Our local distributors will work with you to find a custom labeling system that achieves full compatibility and connectivity with your workflow and labeling needs while minimizing downtime. When you’re ready for a commercial labeling system upgrade, call the experts at CTM.